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Amazon, NYT Revive Workplace Culture Brouhaha
October 21, 2015
Amazon and The New York Times this week engaged in a rehash of their dispute over the publication this summer of a story that describes harsh working conditions at the company. NYT reporter Jodi Kantor misled Amazon, alleged spokesperson Jay Carney, as she failed to challenge the credibility of former Amazon employees whose negative comments formed the backbone of the story.
Amazon Throws the Book at Fake Review Writers
October 20, 2015
An "unhealthy ecosystem" has developed outside of Amazon and it has been harming the company's website, Amazon said in a complaint filed last week in Washington State Superior Court. The suit alleges that 1,114 "John Does" placed fake product reviews on the company's website. The perpetrators apparently have been selling reviews through Fiverr, for as little as $5 each.
JPEG Committee Proposal Stirs Image-DRM Fears
October 19, 2015
The JPEG Committee last week met in Brussels to discuss a proposal to secure privacy information such as metadata for published pictures, including geographical information enabling identification of people who have given anonymous interviews to journalists, and pictures posted on social media intended only for a limited audience. The proposal also seeks to address intellectual property rights.
Could Musk Be Tim Cook's Proxy for Jobs?
October 19, 2015
Elon Musk must have been channeling ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last week, when he commented to the German Press that Apple wasn't poaching Tesla's good employees, it was getting folks who couldn't cut it at Tesla. That undoubtedly is true of some of the employees who have moved between both firms, but it's very unlikely that it is true of all of those employees.
Appeals Court Validates Google's Mammoth Books Project
October 17, 2015
Google won an important legal victory on Friday, when the Second United States Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court's judgment in its years-long battle with the Authors Guild over Google Books. The case "tests the boundaries of fair use," Judge Pierre Leval wrote, but Google's actions did not constitute infringement, because they were for a "highly transformative" purpose.
EU Court Decision Threatens US Cloud Dominance
October 16, 2015
Edward Snowden's legacy gained another chapter last week when the European Court of Justice rejected an agreement that created a Safe Harbor for U.S. companies handling personal data of overseas citizens. In essence, the agreement provided that a U.S. company's word that it had adequate privacy safeguards in place was all that was needed to permit overseas personal data transfers.
Half a Dorsey May Mean Trouble for IPO-Bound Square
October 15, 2015
Square on Wednesday announced that it had registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission for its long-expected initial public offering. A startup that specializes in electronic payments, Square has been operating in the red. It plans to raise up to $275 million in its IPO, it disclosed in its SEC filing. However, market conditions currently are not considered very favorable for IPOs.
A7 Patent Suit Loss Could Cost Apple $862M
October 14, 2015
A U.S. District Court jury earlier this week found that Apple's A7 processor infringes a patent held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patent management arm of the University of Wisconsin -- Madison. WARF alleged patent infringement and claimed damages of up to $862 million in a complaint filed early last year in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Apple News Goes Dark in China
October 13, 2015
Apple recently disabled its Apple News app for users in China, according to multiple reports triggered by software developer Larry Salibra's alerts last week. Although Apple is mum on the subject, users based in China have begun complaining on the Internet about the News app being unavailable there. Salibra could not connect to the News app, and he couldn't read previously downloaded content.
Ex-Maintainer Bemoans Linux Kernel Community's 'Toxic Background Radiation'
October 13, 2015
Longtime Linux kernel developer Sarah Sharp last week published a blog post detailing her reasons for quitting the Linux kernel community. Sharp maintained the USB 3.0 host controller driver until January, when she decided to leave rather than continue to "contribute to a community where I was technically respected, but I could not ask for personal respect," she wrote.
Musk Draws Barbs for Mean-Spirited Dig at Apple
October 9, 2015
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk's recent comments to a German newspaper -- suggesting that Apple is the "Tesla graveyard" due to its hiring of fired Tesla employees -- has struck some nerves in the U.S. Musk dismissed claims that Apple had poached staff, telling the paper that those who couldn't cut it at Tesla would go to work for Apple instead -- and he added that he wasn't kidding.
Facebook Tests New Button-Pushing Plan
October 8, 2015
Facebook on Thursday announced a pilot test of "Reactions," a way to respond to posts on the network in a more nuanced way than its Like button allows. The new feature is live in Spain and Ireland. CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously alluded to the eventual landing of a Like alternative, although he said it would not be a much-requested Dislike button. Facebook had good reasons to resist a Dislike button.
Will Insider Trading Sideline Fantasy Sports?
October 8, 2015
The field of fantasy sports is faced with a fresh set of legal questions, following this week's allegations of insider trading on DraftKings and FanDuel. Having been validated by their skill component, fantasy sports have spilled across state lines and even into the world of collegiate athletics, a realm that has been closed to other forms of gambling.
App for Rating People Draws Withering Scorn
October 7, 2015
Canadian businesswoman Julia Cordray's plan to launch Peeple, a Yelp-like app that would let people post reviews about other people, has drawn fierce criticism in the tech press and the blogosphere, including a petition against the app's launch and a Twitter campaign to boycott it. "It's a legal and ethical minefield," said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at 451 Research.
EU Data Transfer Ruling Leaves Tech Companies in Quandary
October 6, 2015
Europe's highest court has ruled that a 15-year-old agreement regulating electronic data transfers with the U.S. was invalid, potentially striking a blow to thousands of U.S. technology companies that rely on a uniform legal standard do business overseas. The European Court of Justice ruled that the U.S. Safe Harbor agreement was inadequate to protect the privacy rights of ordinary citizens.
Flights of Fancy: The Multibillion-Dollar World of Fantasy Sports
September 30, 2015
Americans are expected to spend $4.6 billion on fantasy sports this year, while vying for a payout of around $107 -- the average prize for winning the biggest fantasy league games, according to American Express. Driving that spending and risk taking are a passion for sports, the promise of purses, the push of new platforms, and the pull of camaraderie.
BlackBerry Sees the Android Light
September 28, 2015
BlackBerry on Friday announced that it would introduce an Android smartphone later this year. The announcement came during the company's Q2 earnings call. The device will be known as the "Priv" and will be built around user privacy, said CEO John Chen. BlackBerry didn't offer any specifics about the Priv beyond the name -- nothing about pricing, U.S. carrier partners or any handset specs.
OPM's Latest Bad News: 5.6 Million Fingerprints Lifted
September 25, 2015
The Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday revealed that the hackers who penetrated its records system stole 5.6 million fingerprints of federal employees -- five times the 1.1 million originally reported. The cyberattack, which came to light this spring, compromised the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information of 21.5 million people.
Volkswagen's Fines - Billions; Lost Customer Loyalty - Incalculable
September 25, 2015
There's a rough road ahead for consumers strapped into Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars kitted out with software to fool emissions testing. Many of VW's loyal customers feel let down and even duped, said Agnes Huff, CEO of the Agnes Huff Communications Group. Many of them now question the brand's overall integrity. "Regaining customer trust will be an ongoing challenge."
Apple Car Talk Starts Making Sense
September 23, 2015
The Apple car rumor gained some legs this week with a report that brings some interesting new insight. Though a bit shy on verifiable details -- it cites unnamed people familiar with Apple's plans and vaguely refers to people inside Apple -- the report suggests the company will triple its current 600-person team to 1,800 people as it ramps up its car development effort, code-named "Titan."
Skype Skips Monday
September 21, 2015
Microsoft has confirmed that network issues crippled the consumer version of Skype. Some users reported no success in logging in. Others managed to log in, but weren't recognized as being online. The network issues affected only the consumer version of the service, according to Microsoft. So Skype for Business was still in business. It's unclear when Microsoft expects to resolve the problem.
Tests, Lies and Volkswagen
September 21, 2015
German automaker Volkswagen on Sunday admitted that it installed software that doctored the pollution tests for diesel vehicles sold in the United States. Volkswagen stock, which is listed in Europe, fell more than 20 percent Monday morning on the announcement. The company apparently was concerned that meeting the federal emissions standards would require it to degrade the vehicles' engines.
DMV Meeting Revs Apple Car Rumors
September 21, 2015
Apple executives reportedly met with officials from California's Department of Motor Vehicles regarding the company's plans to test an autonomous vehicle. Mike Maletic, senior legal counsel for Apple, had an hour-long meeting in August with California's autonomous vehicle experts, including the cosponsors of the state's autonomous vehicle regulation project.
Carly Fiorina vs. Donald Trump: The Fascinating Difference
September 21, 2015
Watching the Republican debates has been a fascinating experience, because I started following Carly Fiorina when she first took over HP. I thought then and I still think that Steve Jobs was the only one to match her on-stage presence and skill set. History has proven her assertion that it was HP's board, not it's CEO, that was the primary problem that needed to be fixed while she was there.
The Unsinkable Kim Dotcom?
September 18, 2015
Someone perhaps even more flamboyant than Donald Trump may be getting involved in the U.S. presidential race -- and not on the Republican side. Notorious Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is not running for office, but as his extradition case heats up in New Zealand, a possible Democratic candidate for the presidency -- mild-mannered Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig -- has come to his defense.
Microsoft Shoots Itself in the Foot
September 17, 2015
Shame on you Microsoft! Last week you admitted to downloading gigabits of Windows 10 data to users' hard drives without permission. The problem is, that move both took up our hard drive space and triggered Internet Service Provider fees. You did it without even asking our permission. Hey, Microsoft, who the hell do you think you are? The simple solution is this: Ask permission.
Facebook's Button Pushing: What's Not to Like?
September 16, 2015
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that Facebook may integrate an alternative to its ubiquitous Like button. Facebook users have asked for a Dislike button for years, and the company now is preparing to test a response to that user demand. The idea is not to transform Facebook into a forum where users could in essence vote up or down on particular posts -- that isn't the point.
When Data Breaks the News
September 15, 2015
Google is putting a new spin on the news. Instead of relying on journalists to gather facts and report events the old-fashioned way, the company's News Lab, launched earlier this year, aims to deliver news stories through data. Case in point: Who needs polls to reveal that Donald Trump is the most popular candidate in the Republican primary free-for-all?
Fear of Ad Blocking Could Lead to More Effective Advertising
September 10, 2015
Adblock Browser for Android re-emerged at the Google Play store on Wednesday, after more than two years of banishment. It is also available at the iTunes App Store. "The reason we were readmitted to the Play store is that this app is different than the one that was kicked out. This one is a browser. The previous one provided some blocking for in-app ads," said Eyeo's Ben Williams.
Report: Amazon to Build Cut-Rate Slate
September 8, 2015
Amazon reportedly plans to offer a $50 tablet in time for the holiday shopping season. The 6-inch tablet would sell for half the price of the Fire HD 6. A $50 price point would make a tablet disposable to some and finally affordable to others -- points apparently not lost on Amazon. Though there's no argument it would be a killer price point, there remains the question of quality.
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Should social media sites be held accountable for terrorists' communications?
Yes -- They are providing a platform to facilitate murder and mayhem.
Yes -- Everything must be done to protect society from danger.
Maybe -- I'm not sure they have the technological capability to stop them.
Maybe -- I'm not convinced terrorists are using them for serious plotting.
No -- Authorities should monitor social networks to gather intelligence.
No -- Social networks are no different than phone carriers or mail services.